By Robert S. Becker
"We shall all hang together," quipped the savviest of our founders, Benjamin Franklin, "or assuredly we shall all hang separately." Unlike us, Franklin found unity against a single, outside, mortal danger to Founders British retaliation. We aren't so fortunate, as a myriad of ill-defined threats loom. That merits a new, updated Pledge of Allegiance that redefines a national commitment for a 21st Century super-power.
"Allegiance" to government is harder to find than death panels and not by chance. Can we sustain prosperity when unhinged Americans sabotage consensus at every crisis denying we're in the same boat, the same (polluted) gulf or planet? Sustained disarray produces the stagnation of ungovernability, fed by mass denials, leadership bereft of vision, and structural quagmires (read: the Senate).
You have to be taught to hate (your minority, jobless, or immigrant) neighbor. Today's center isn't holding because well-heeled operatives exploit historic values that once cemented disparate colonies, then miraculously melded incredibly diverse newcomers into a whole. Despite hitherto unimaginable 24/7 media-connectivity, political schism and cultural fissures typify America, as rarely before, with minefields everywhere.
Certainly, nothing cracks inside and outside seams better than losing a chain of reckless, overseas wars that deplete our treasury, leaving the homeland doubly vulnerable (broke and dispirited). Paradoxically, as corporate franchising refashions every hamlet to look alike, entrenched powers inflame divisiveness. While ad billions push us to consume the same products, partisan broadcasts achieve the opposite, channeling bigotry and "us against them" simplifications.
Out of Many, Schism?
What happened to our illustrious motto, "e pluribus unum" (out of many, one), now, like a grandfather clock, chiming a distant past when unity overcame disparity? Predictably, a nation obsessed with self-reliance and radical individualism will sabotage its mutual interests, oblivious when "getting what's mine" contradicts "preserving the whole" on which prosperity depends.